1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

Audirect Beam

Rating:
4.03846/5,
  1. NymPHONOmaniac
    Small device and Small sound that make Smile
    Written by NymPHONOmaniac
    Published Apr 26, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Clear delicate sound, battery free device that do not drain phone battery life, very small, volume and play-pause switch-button, generous accessories
    Cons - low amping power, some sound cutting with (my) phone, lack of dynamic, intimate soundstage, not very competitively priced
    AUDIRECT BEAM REVIEW:

    P1011223.JPG

    SOUND: 8/10
    CONSTRUCTION: 8/10
    DESIGN: 8/10
    ACCESSORIES: 8.5/10
    VALUE: 7.5/10


    I'm a DAC kinda guy, I like how different DAC chip can offer different sound flavor, sometime its subtle, sometime game changing. Sure, amping section and implementation is as much important than the digital audio decoder, but when you know a good dac is hide in an audio device, it give you a big clue about sound quality potential it can offer.

    After trying multiple OTG DAC, today I will be reviewing the well receive AUDIRECT BEAM, an ultra portable dac-amp with a promising sabre ES9118 dac chip in it. It have DSD support, ultra low distortion and a high Signal-to-noise ratio of 125db. Since most smarthphone do not have 3.5mm phone output anymore, this type of OTG DAC-AMP became more interesting than ever, and to be honnest, even with a phone output, the sound upgrade is sure to be a big step to please demanding audiophile that plan to use earphones or very easy to drive headphones on the go without compromising sound quality.

    P1011532.JPG

    AUDIRECT have been working in audio industry since 5 years, creating DSD DAC, Video player and Wireless sensor for audio-video brands. Apart from the BEAM, they lauch another Dac-AMP call the WHISTLE wich receive good review. As well, they sell different type of OTG cable, earphones cable, and even begin to lauch earphones and earbuds. Yep, Audirect is a quite busy company, now, let's see what worth this 99$ portable DAC-AMP.

    DISCLAIMER: The AUDIRECT BEAM was send to me free of charge in exchange of a fully independant NO BS review. I was curious to test it for multiple reason, but mostly for sound quality and comparaison with other portable DAC-AMP own. When it come to reviewing audio product priced under 100$, I have no problem convincing myself I pay for it, so my price value obsession stay intact.

    You can find the BEAM about everywhere, it sell for 100$ on Amazon and Aliexpress. Cheapest price I find is on Ebay for 90$.



    Specs

    • Audirect

    • Output power: -114 dB THD+N, 2 Vrms into 600 ohms; -108 dB THD+N, 49 mW into 32 ohms

    • Frequency response: 20 Hz–30 kHz (-0.15 dB)

    • Distortion: 0.0004%

    • Signal-to-noise ratio: +125 dB SNR, + 120 dB DNR

    • DAC chip: ES9118 SABRE HiFi SoC

    • PCM support: 16–32 bit, 32–384 kHz

    • DSD support: DoP64, DoP128, native DSD64/128/256

    • IR: < 1 ohm

    • Amplifier chip: ES9118

    • Input port: USB-C

    • Output port: ⅛ in (3.5 mm)

    • Dimensions: 2.1 x 0.6 x 0.2 in (52 x 14 x 6 mm)

    • Weight: 0.4 oz (12 g)
    Included
    • Lightning to Type-C cable

    • Type-C to Type-C cable

    • USB-A to Type-C cable

    • User manual

    ACCESSORIES, CONSTRUCTION AND DESIGN:

    P1011218.JPG P1011220.JPG P1011221.JPG P1011222.JPG


    UNBOXING is an elegant and satisfactory experience. Unlike other portable DAC-AMP I try, number of accessories is rather generous, wich the consumer will be gratefull as he will not have to struggle to find or buy the necessary cable to connect the BEAM on its phone or laptop. Here, its all about cable, and you got them ALL: the Lightning to Type C, the Type C to Type C, the USB to Type C. And they are all of way above average quality, with great high end look to them. Who doesn't like 4 cores braided cable with black, gold and silver cores?? Really great cable that have a secure tigh fit on my LG G6 Type C port.

    P1011224.JPG P1011537.JPG

    CONSTRUCTION is all metal with the exception of sound-play switch button, wich is unfortunately made of plastic. Here, a piece of metal would have been appreciate because i'm a little worry it affect long term durability. Nonetheless, the device look sturdy and can be drop on the ground without worry.

    P1011543.JPG P1011541.JPG

    DESIGN is low profil and mean to be very light so it act as an extra cable to your earphones, at 12g you really do not have to care about the BEAM disconecting suddenly from you phone because of its weight. Connectivity in both sens is tigh and trusthworty, my earphones never disconnect from the BEAM either.

    P1011544.JPG

    Gratefully, we have a button-switch that is use for play-pause and volume control. We cannot change track with this button, wich is a drawback for me as the volume control isn't THAT needed since the BEAM have not a lot of volume step to it due to low power output. As said, this plastic switch worry me a little, its quite an audacious design as it turn left and right and can be press too. I work perfectly to play pause, but for volume control I find the switch a little loose and lacking in preciseness.



    CONNECTIVITY AND PHONE BATTERY CONSUMPTION:

    P1011539.JPG

    Firstly, I hate my LG G6, i do not have own any phone I can say I love: i'm NOT a phone dude. I guess at 35 years old, seing this smartphone phenomenon taking an invasive place in our social life and behavior do not help, anyway, G6 is not loved because he struggle with OTG DAC-AMP connectivity and do not sound good without by passing its audio decoder.

    So, I was surprise that for CONNECTIVITY the BEAM was a plug-and-play joy! It was recognize by my capricious G6 without problem. Sill, about connectivity, I can encounter cuting in sound time to time, an half-second cut every 5 minutes to be precise. This tend to be my phone issue, as I encounter this with all OTG Dac from my Xduoo X20 or X3ii.

    P1011538.JPG
    (sorry, my phone is in french, but you can see that you need to select MIDI option to get better connectivity)

    The Audirect BEAM have No Battery, wich really scare me about battery drowning of my phone. Again: BIG surprise! The BEAM its litteraly Magical when it come to power consumption. I think my Wi-fi use more phone battery than this device, as I just can't tell something is plug to it. After 3 hours of usage, my phone go from 100% to 90%. Sure, G6 have a good battery, but without any DAC plug to it I think it would have been 92% or less if I listen to music. I can't explain it but: BEAM really do not drain your phone battery.


    When it come to USB DAC for Laptop, the CONNECTIVITY is even better, again, plug-and-play, it was recognize automaticaly on my Window 10 and volume control switch work perfectly, not the play-pause button tough. Now, I do not encounter any cut in the sound, not a single time, wich confirm the issue is due to my very LG G6. Sound is exactly the same as with phone (not more powerfull).


    SOUND IMPRESSIONS :

    P1011547.JPG

    Audio enthusiast that own or have heard any audio source with a sabre ES dac in it know that this decoder have a special sound of its own. Here, its a love or hate story. For me that begin my audiophile journey with a Ibasso DX90 that use dual ES9018 dac, its a passionate fanatical love. This explain why I own a Xduoo X20 that use single ES9018 dac too : this mature, delicate, analytical and ultra clear balanced audio rendering is reference decoding to me, unlike more coloured AK4490 or Cirrus CS4398 processing, the ES dac tend to offer a more neutral and revealing approach.

    I was utterly curious to try the BEAM so I can transform my phone into a SABRE DAP. What is ironic, is that the LG G5 have this very ES9118 dac in it, but not my G6, so, now, is it as impressive as the ES9018??

    Answer is no, but not far too. The thing is that the 9118 have an integrated headphones amplifier to it, and even if sound processor is top notch, the amplifier isn’t enough powerfull to offer same dymanic and sound pressure of a ES9018 that use dedicated amplifier chain.

    Wich is why all my test are done with earphones, earbuds or very easy to drive headphones and with the right one, yes, I have this ultra clear, delicate and neutral sound I love, but with a smooter more liquid approach than sharper ES9018.


    BASS is more about timbre and definition than body and impact, it will tend to tame bassy earphones, wich is positive sometime, but when you use bass light one it will perhaps feel underwhelming. The level of separation is very impressive, but sub lack body and feel a little thin even if i’m not into pumped up bass the lack of air and impact made it a little to linear and dry to my ears.

    MID RANGE is where the BEAM offer more richness, its very articulated and vocal gain extra presence due to a very clean approach with smooth transparent timbre. Should it be for vocal, violin or piano, it’s impressive how natural and well define the instruments are. Vocal became more centered, intimate and spot on with the BEAM, it isn’t very thick mid, more a foward transparent approach. Details are above average but not overly textured or grainy, wich will help to tame upper mids harshness of problematic earphones like the Tinaudio T2. Imaging is good, but not spacious and airy, so there not lot of space between signer and instruments, again : intimate.

    TREBLE is another winner with the ES9118 dac, it feel at the same time very revealing and effortless. Extension is extreme and micro details do not struggle to show their face, wich will sure make you discover new on in your favorite music. Highs have more brilliance than sparkle, minimal decay and a tigh smotth attack. I find it to be extremely enjoyable for well mastered electronic music like ‘’Arterial’’ album from ‘’Lusine’’, where the ultra clear background permit a high definition musicality very rich in details.


    SOUNDSTAGE
    is more on the intimate side, it have good widness but not alot of deepness, unlike more powerfull dac-amp, sound do not feel alot around-you-head.

    TIMBRE is transparent, smooth, liquid, its well rounded but not thick or particularly rich in subtle details.




    SUB : 7/10


    MID BASS : 8/10


    MID RANGE : 8/10


    TREBLE : 8/10


    TIMBRE : 7.5/10


    SOUNDSTAGE : 7/10


    ATTACK : 7.5/10



    AMPING POWER:

    With power stated as 49mW into 32ohm and high signal-to-noise of 125db, I feel the amping power is more about digital gain than proper real amping power. I mean, look at the size of the device, and think about the fact its not battery powered, we can’t ask the BEAM to drive properly high impendance headphones or earbuds. But even the earphones can benifit of good stable powerfull amping, wich explain why the BEAM will perhaps be as powerfull as your phone out. Yep. So, if you wanna take full advantage of its potential, I suggest only using it with easy to drive iem or super easy to drive headphones like the Meze 99 NEO (22ohm).




    PAIRING:


    P1011529.JPG

    With TONEKING MRZ TOMAHAWK earbuds:

    The TOMAHAWK is one of my favorite earbuds, it have a very spacious and airy soundstage, with mid centric sound and slightly bright treble. Its a bass light earbuds too.

    With the BEAM, the bass is even more bass light, but clear and accurate, with too powerfull source, Tomahawk bass can distort, here its clean, light and well separated. The MID RANGE gain in details in a delicate way, it feel more transparent and wider than deeper, still airy but less spacious. Highs became less harsh and treble less grainy, giving an overall more liquid sound that feel less agressive to the cost of loosing some dynamic and attack. Level of microdetails is shown effortlessly and whole sound have a new unique level of agility to it.

    The BEAM drive them quite well, and I do not have to push volume to max to enjoy loud sound, but at 32ohm I feel it lack a little juice to offer fuller sound, the vocal being less thick and rich in timbre.




    With TINAUDIO T2 :
    P1011531.JPG


    Another favorite of mine, the T2 offer a mid centric airy soundsignature with above average imaging.

    Here, the BEAM tame a little the lower bass, but give more grip and punch to mid bass, wich is very benificial for the rather relax T2.

    MID RANGE became less opaque and more transparent, giving a quite impressive instrument separation. As well, it became less bright and upper mids feel less harsh.
    TREBLE is slightly more emphased in upper section, wich give a hint more details to T2, again ,highs aren’t as sparkly than with more powerfull DAP.



    With MEZE 99 NEO :

    I say BEAM cannot drive most headphones properly, but there exception, like this 22ohm NEO that are super easy to drive and thinked tobe use with phone.

    I’m surprise about how BASS became more controled and less sloppy than with powerfull source, sub is less emphased but betetr rounded and mid bass gain extra control wich permit overall better clarity and sless warmed tonality.

    MIDRANGE is clear and well centered, vocal have extra clarity to them and feelmore centere but less wide too. Level of imaging is really impressive.

    TREBLE extend even further and give a very articulate detailed sound to rather warm NEO, the BEAM delicate and organic sound mix extremely well with warm thick and lush treble of MEZE.

    Yep, this pairing is exceptional.



    COMPARAISONS :
    P1011528.JPG


    With RADSONE ES100 (100$) :

    The ES100 is now a part of audiophile history and gain tremendous respect among audio lovers due to his excellent sound, powerfull amping, small size and 3.5mm and 2.5mm balanced phone out.

    As well, it can be use as a Bluetooth receiver using its dual AK4375a.

    Hum, I don’t think the BEAM stand a chance against the ES100 in term of vesatility and price value, due to the fact its more powefull and have BT receiver that sound incredible. Still, ES100 have one drawback and its battery life, the BEAM do not encounter that problem with no battery.

    AMPING is way more powerfull from 3.5mm output and crazy more powerfull with balanced out, this makethe ES100 more capable to drive demanding earphones and headphones.

    SOUND is slightly brighter, with bigger soundstage (thanks amping!), better instrument separation and imaging and more energic dynamic. BEAM sound smoother and more delicate, have a little less sub bass thickness but better transparency compared to the more grainy timbre of ES100, as well, it sound more neutral and less analytical. I find more details richness with ES100 and better attack-decay. Paired with bright earphones or headphones, the ES100 can sound less natural than BEAM.

    A plus for the BEAM, it can play DSD while the ES100 play up to 48khz-24bit.

    Anyway, as said, its just IMPOSSIBLE to beat the EARSTUDIO RADSONE ES100 in term of overall price value, sound quality and versatily. Sorry BEAM, ES100 is still the KING.



    VS XDUOO XD-02 (110$) :
    P1011527.JPG


    Now, again, its a Bluetooth USB-DAC with more features than the BEAM, but its not as portable for sure.

    XD-02 can be use as usb otg dac-amp, Bluetooth amp AND portable amplifier.

    In term of sound quality, the BEAM sound clearer and more balanced than warmer bassier XD-02, but have a more intimate soundstage that ultra wide and tall spaciality of XD-02. BASS of XD-02 is thicker with more lower end emphasis, the BEAM is more mid bass emphased and have better resolution and punchier tigher attack. MIDS are wider and more airy with XD-02 but thicker and more opaque, wich give a better imaging and detailed mid range to BEAM. TREBLE of XD-02 is slightly rolled off, but mid treble give good decay to highs, the BEAM is more extended and show naturally plenty of micro details, its as well less grainy than XD-02.

    Amping is way more powerfull with Xduoo XD-02, and this is without high gain on. Not comparable really, BEAM is perhaps 3 times less loud.

    In term of price value, XD-02 win, in term of sound value, the BEAM win.



    CONCLUSION :

    In a time where portable OTG USB DAC-AMP market explode with competition, the AUDIRECT BEAM appear a little late. 3 years ago, it would have been in direct competition with pricier Dragonfly, but nowadays new technology make this type of DAC-AMP more competitively priced than the 100$ BEAM. I underline this as a quite intense usb DAC-AMP explorer that is able to find quite incredible ‘’chi-fi’’ DAC for less than 100$, hum, like a very small es9018 dac that I still need to test more but cost 25$. So, this is to take with a grain of salt : I ask ALOT to this type of audio device in term of overall price value.

    So, for the BEAM my conclusion is that it sound great for the price, do not drain battery life, is ultra small and portable, but seriously lack power output wich affect overall sound dynamic. As well, the sound cutting I encounter on my LG G6 make me worry.

    If you search for an ultra small and portable DAC-AMP to bypass a bad sounding phone or to add a audio output to it, the AUDIRECT BEAM sure offer an appealing non offensive sound with delicately detailed musicality that will benifit most of your earphones, and some very easy to drive headphones. As well, if you care about extra accesories that come with it, I think it make it worth the buy, but as said, there lot of other alternative cheaper DAC-AMP that perhaps will please you too.

    For more reviews, you can go take a look to my NO BS BLOG
  2. Dobrescu George
    Pocket Fun - Audirect Beam DAC/AMP Review
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Mar 23, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - + Tiny Body
    + Draws very little battery from a smartphone, ideal for protable usage
    + Clear and musical sound
    + Fun to use
    + Excellent package contents and price performance ratio
    + Wide compatiblity, works with pretty much anything
    + Wide soundstage
    Cons - - Not very powerful, can't drive most headphones, and may have issues even with some IEMs at louder volumes
    - Gets warm during usage
    - The sound may be a bit of an acquired taste
    - Soundstage lacks a bit of depth
    Pocket Fun - Audirect Beam DAC/AMP Review

    [​IMG]

    The tiny Audirect Beam has seen a lot of attention lately, and for a good reason, it has Hi-Res decoding, a good amount of driving power, and a warm sound, all in a device that's no bigger than a tiny USB Stick. I'll be testing it out, and comparing it to other similarly priced devices in today's review.




    Introduction

    Audirect is a little company from China that rose to fame recently, with their Beam and their older Whistle DAC/AMPs being some really nifty products, small in size, but pretty capable, and with the large number of good quality cables included in the package, I'm pretty confident that it will come in handy for many people. They are a friendly company, and since they are presented by Linsoul Audio, you also have good warranty, if you decide to get it from Linsoul, but don't worry, I spoke with Audirect directly, and I'm fairly sure they'll help you with warranty regardless where you purchase it from, although for a small, one piece device, there's very little that can go wrong.


    It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Audirect, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by Audirect or anyone else. I'd like to thank Audirect for providing the sample for the review. The sample was provided along with Audirect's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review reflects my personal experience with Audirect Beam. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those curious about Audirect Beam find their next music companion. There are no affiliate links in this review, or any Audiophile-Heaven review.



    About me

    https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/about.html



    Packaging

    First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The package for this little one isn't large, but it is very rich, especially for a DAC?AMP in this price range. Besides the little Audirect Beam, you also get a set of USB cables, including an iPhone cable, a Type-C to Type-C cable, and a Type A to Type-C cable.

    Since the Beam uses a Type-C cable, that's pretty much all you'd need for using it, and it is better than some 500 USD DAC/AMPs come with. I'd also like to note that the cables can be purchased separately, and they make a good portion of the value of the overall package of The Beam.

    Considering the price and the package I'd say that the package quality for the Beam is excellent.




    What to look in when purchasing an entry-level DAC/AMP

    https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/what-to-lookl.html



    Technical Specifications

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Build Quality/Aesthetics/UI/Firmware

    Physically, the Beam is a really small device, with a tiny volume / play / pause knob on the right side. It is made of metal, and my unit is green in color, reason why my photos are slightly less convincing than my typical photo work. I would recommend going for the black or yellow colors instead.


    The unit doesn't have hard edges, and it is plug and play with virtually any device, including Android and Windows 10 computers, and it looks like an extension of the OTG cable while connected.

    [​IMG]

    There is a Type-C connector and a 3.5mm Single Ended Headphone Output, but that's pretty much all you can find on it, not that you'd require much more.

    The volume knob seems to work on both Windows and Android, and the Play / Pause button (basically pressing on the volume button), also seems to work just fine on both Operating Systems. I had no iOS on hand to test, but a friend of Audiophile-Heaven owns a Beam and an iPhone and told me everything works flawlessly on iOS as well.

    It is very handy, very tiny, and that it gets pretty warm during usage, but it still stays cooler than the original Whistle did, so I'm happy to notice improvements from Audirect.

    Weighting 12 grams, the Beam is probably the smallest DAC/AMP on the market, being pretty much as unobtrusive as a normal USB Dongle, like HIDIZS Sonata HD DAC.

    Overall, for its intended purpose, it is an excellent little device, flawless software, and pretty great build quality.



    Sound Quality

    The little Beam DAC/AMP can even decode Hi-Res files, up to 32 Bit / 384 kHz, and even DSD, up to Native DSD 128 files. This is much better than most tiny DAC/AMPs can do, and Audirect's efforts are totally commendable. This being said, it is a 100 USD DAC/AMP and by itself, the resolution may not be quite enough to notice the bump in quality when using Hi-Res files.

    [​IMG]

    On the other hand, it has a pretty low power rating, being able to power mostly IEMs and some portable headphones, so it is best to get the Beam if you have IEMs and even there, I'd recommend it for IEMs that are easier to power.


    The main signature can be described as clear, clean, musical, engaging, warm, smoothly textured, brighter as far as the tonality goes, and with a solid bass, punchy type over the boomy type.

    The bass is pretty neutral in quantity, and it has a punchy type of texture, with the lower registers extension going fairly averagely low. The character of the bass is punchy above boomy, and it doesn't feel wooly, but rather natural. The textures in the bass are fair for a 100 USD device, and so is the extension. You can't EQ this too much without reaching the hard limit of the device though, so not exactly a little DAC/AMP for bassheads.

    I noted in my little Youtube video review, that it is warm, I was talking about the midrange tonality, where you can feel some warmth coloring the overall midrange, but this is one sweet kind of warmth, not a dark or a boomy type. The midrange is pretty natural, slightly warmed by the bass, and pretty detailed for 100 USD. The detail isn't exactly Beam's strongest point, and it is focused on a musical and soft presentation rather than a textured and detailed one. Textures in the songs of Mindless Self Indulgence are expressed okay, but micro details and micro detail is about fair.

    The treble is fairly bright and neutral, although it is smooth in the texture, laking grain. The treble may lack aggressiveness for metal music lovers, and for those looking for a touch more detail, and instead presents music in a soft and non-offensive way.


    The sondstage is wider more than it is deep, and The Beam is good at offering stereo clues, being pretty holographic and fun, but the layering and separation, as well as the depth takes a second seat when it comes to its soundstage representation.

    There is almost no hiss, even with hiss sensitive IEMs like Campfire Atlas and IT04, so you don't have to worry about hiss regardless of the IEMs you're pairing The Beam with.



    Portable Usage

    With such a tiny size, and with a good selection of cables, the portable usage of The Beam is pretty much excellent.

    [​IMG]

    You can add the fact that it can decode Hi-Res files, and when it is connected to your smartphone, you can plug in some Tidal and you'll have access to a virtually unlimited collection of music files, all from a really tiny device.

    For smartphones that don't have a Headphone Output already, The Beam is a necessity, while for smartphones that do have a headphone output, it is a pretty cool way of enhancing your experience, as it will have better detail, a wider soundstage, and a clearer overall presentation than most smartphones on the market.


    The Beam should also have better driving power than most mid range smartphones on the market, making it a pretty interesting little device to juice your trips.



    Comparisons

    Being priced at 100 USD, it has quite a few enemies, like Shanling M0, FiiO K3, and even something like the Cyrus Soundkey. Some of the devices aren't direct competitors, but let's say you have 100 USD to get a DAC/AMP or a solution for your music source, you may be considering multiple scenarios, and my purpose here is to help explain what each of those does, and what scenarios each of them is best in.


    [​IMG]

    Audirect Beam vs FiiO K3 - FiiO K3 is a desktop DAC/AMP, and although it isn't intended for portable usage, if you have a phone with a huge battery, you could do it, although I really recommend you don't. K3 is considerably more versatile than the Beam, has both SE and Balanced output, K3 has Optical Out, and even coaxial outputs, and it has a considerably more neutral signature than the Beam. Now, if you need a portable, The Beam is probably the only real option between the two, although K3 has much more driving power, and the Beam is best paired with IEMs rather than headphones.

    Audirect Beam vs Cyrus Soundkey - Here's an interesting comparison, because both The Beam and The Soundkey are pretty much the same device, easier to compare. The Beam wins in terms of connections, because it has a Type-C connector, where The SoundKey has a microUSB one. It seems that Cyrus includes better cables with the new SoundKey units, but the unit I have only has micro-micro and micro-TypeA, no Type-C to microUSB. In terms of driving power, Soundkey has better driving power, and has a much brighter tonality, more detail, and better textures revealing abilities, but that comes at the price of it being brighter and more neutral, the bass is punchier, but less in amount, SoundKey clearly being a more neutral device. This being said, I really love my devices revealing as much detail as possible, so SoundKey has an upper hand there. Audirect Beam is more musical and sounds more analogue-like compared to the soundKey. Both draw more or less the same amount of power from a smartphone. If you're looking for a softer and warmer mid range device, The Beam is the better option here, while if you're looking for a brighter edge, and for more detail, then Cyrus Soundkey is the better option.


    Audirect Beam vs Shanling M0 - As I said before, if you have about 100 USD, you may not be fully sure what to get, like a DAC/AMP, or even a portable player. Shanling M0 first comes to mind when comparing it to The Beam, as it is pretty similar in terms of sound and driving abilities. Now, Shanling M0 has its own microSD slot, and display, and it is basically a portable music player, but it is larger in size when compared to M0. This being said, M0 is not necessarily easier to use, since its really small display makes it complicated to browse around it, while a smartphone connected to The Beam makes it simpler for me to browse my music collection. Overall, The Beam gives you more listening options, with a larger access to a larger music collection, including tidal, which Shanling M0 can't do, and The Beam gives you access to Youtube and other features, that are inherent to your smartphone, that M0 can't do. On the other hand, M0 draws no power from your smartphone, and has its own battery, and M0 is better if you're on a long trip and don't want anything tethered to your phone. The sonic performance is fairly similar, although The Beam has slightly better detail and a wider soundstage, with slightly better textures and a more softer sound, compared to M0. If you're looking for an affordable music Player with a touchscreen, Shanling M0 is a really good option, or you could even consider FiiO M3K, but if you're looking for a nice little DAC/AMP for your smartphone, The Beam makes a more compelling offer.



    Pairing

    Audirect Beam is best paired with IEMs, rather than headphones, since its power rating really isn't quite high enough for most headphones, although it does a sweet job with most IEMs. I said in my video that it can power my Ultrasone Signature DXP, but even there, it tends to struggle at high volumes, and if you're trying to listen louder, I'd recommend it for IEMs only.

    [​IMG]

    Audirect Beam + Dunu Falcon-C - Dunu Falcon-C has always been one of my favorite ~200 USD IEMs, for its very healthy V-shaped sound, natural midrange, and an open stage. Pairing with The Beam is very good, as the Beam can give Falcon-C both enough juice, but also a really wide stage, along with a pretty punchy signature, and a warm midrange.

    Audirect Beam + Alpha Delta D6 - Delta D6 is one really open and light-sounding IEM, and the good width of The Beam shows its potency here as well, since D6 becomes even wider sounding, but also gains some punch from The Beam, as well as some good amount of warmth in the midrange, which it needed pretty much to become more versatile

    Audirect Beam + Shozy CP - Shozy CP is a pretty midrange-forward IEM, that really shines in the mids, and with a DAC/AMP that also shines in the mids, CP becomes even sweeter, even more wide sounding, and even more punchy. I feel the overall ergonomics and aesthetic of this combo will please a lot of music lovers, looking for this kind of pairing.




    Audiophile-Heaven Youtube Video Review Link



    [​IMG]



    Value and Conclusion

    It has been pretty fun reviewing this little DAC/AMP, and I feel it is fairly well priced, and although it is nowhere near as versatile as a FiiO K3 DAC/AMP is, The Audirect Beam is much more portable and aimed at a person who's always on-the-go. At 100 USD, it includes a good number of cables, some of which may be worth almost half of the price, if purchased separately, making Audirect Beam a pretty fair value.

    [​IMG]

    The build quality is pretty much excellent, a tiny fully metallic device, that even has a physical volume control, and a play / pause button, and which has a nice overall design. The USB implemented is Type-C, which is pretty awesome, as it is reversible, and as it should be easier to pair with most smartphones, especially considering the cables included in the package.


    The music is pretty good, and what's more amazing is how easy it can decide Hi-Res files, and even play DSD files. The warm midrange, and smooth yet present treble is surely going to be music to the ears of those looking for this kind of signature.

    [​IMG]

    Overall, if you're looking for a tiny device to power your trips, if your smartphone doesn't have a Headphone Output, or if you want to get a better sound of your smartphone, you should totally consider The Audirect Beam, and if you like a warm midrange, wide sound, and if you use IEMs a lot, The Audirect Beam might make your main portable DAC/AMP for a good time.



    Full Playlist used for this review

    While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.

    Tidal Playlist


    https://tidal.com/playlist/64555551-ec3c-4279-ae44-248fdfcf6c4b

    Song List

    Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date
    Eskimo Callboy - Frances
    Incubus - Summer Romance
    Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage
    Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead
    Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir
    Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
    Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
    Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
    Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
    Attack Attack - Kissed A Girl
    Doctor P - Bulletproof
    Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
    Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
    Escape The Fate - Gorgeous Nightmare
    SOAD - Chop Suey
    Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
    Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
    Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop
    Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
    Eminem - Rap God
    Stromae - Humain À L'eau
    Sonata Arctica - My Selene
    Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
    Metallica - Fuel
    Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
    Masa Works - Golden Japang
    REOL - Luvoratorrrrry
    Dope - Addiction
    Korn - Word Up!
    Papa Roach - ... To be Loved
    Fever The Ghost - Source
    Fall Out Boy - Immortals
    Green Day - Know The Enemy
    Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
    A static Lullaby - Toxic
    Royal Republic - Addictive
    Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
    We Came As Romans - My Love
    Skillet - What I Believe
    Man With A Mission - Smells Like Teen Spirit
    Yasuda Rei - Mirror
    Mojo Juju - Must Be Desire
    Falling Up - Falling In Love
    Manafest - Retro Love
    Rodrigo Y Grabriela - Paris
    Zomboy - Lights Out
    Muse - Resistance
    T.A.T.U &amp; Rammstein - Mosaku
    Grey Daze - Anything, Anything
    Katy Perry - Who Am I Living For
    Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike
    Machinae Supremacy - Killer Instinct
    Pendulum - Propane Nightmares
    Sirenia - Lithium And A Lover
    Saving Abel - Addicted
    Hollywood Undead - Levitate
    The Offspring - Special Delivery
    Escape The Fate - Smooth
    Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe
    Dope - Rebel Yell
    Crazy Town - Butterfly
    Silverstein - My Heroine


    I hope my review is helpful to you!

    ---

    Contact me!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    ---
  3. Johnny Mac
    Audirect Beam Realview.
    Written by Johnny Mac
    Published Feb 24, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Size and build, pitch black background, stellar imaging and soundstage, lack of battery
    Cons - Sharp and edgy design
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    With portability being a premium feature now more than ever that even audiophile-sound capable devices are banking on, it comes to no surprise to see a constant flow of gadgets offering the best of both worlds, portability and sound quality.

    One notable portable DAC/AMP that has been going around the audiophile community is the Beam, made by Audirect, makers of the Whistle and uPod. Their recent offering, the Audirect Beam, their homebrew pinnacle product after 5 years of experience in the DAC business. Priced at $99 which you can grab off Linsoul Direct and DD Audiophile in AliExpress, the Beam “offers” a bridge to connect your daily transport notebook, smartphone and tablet into the audiophile codecs. But with these same daily transport devices improving, is the Beam really a solution or just another bridge yet to be burnt. Let’s cross this bridge and find out.

    Specifications:
    • Output power: -114 dB THD+N, 2 Vrms into 600 ohms; -108 dB THD+N, 49 mW into 32 ohms
    • Frequency response: 20 Hz–30 kHz (-0.15 dB)
    • Distortion: 0.0004%
    • Signal-to-noise ratio: +125 dB SNR, + 120 dB DNR
    • DAC chip: ES9118 SABRE HiFi SoC
    • Amplifier chip: ES9118
    • PCM support: 16–32 bit, 32–384 kHz
    • DSD support: DoP64, DoP128, native DSD64/128/256
    • IR: < 1 ohm
    • Input port: USB-C
    • Output port: ⅛ in (3.5 mm)
    • Includes USB, Micro-USB and USB-C cables
    Packaging and Build Quality
    [​IMG]
    Coming in a white and blue schemed packaging, the Audirect Beam can then and there be seen on the transparent plastic cutout next to a “beaming” blue Beam font with the Audirect branding as well on the front which only since February of 2019 added the Hi-Res certification logo, my Beam was from the 2018 batch so the Hi-Res certification logo is absent.
    [​IMG]
    Packaged along with the Audirect Beam are 3 different cable connectors (Type-C, USB and Lightning) all terminated in Type-C which were also gold-plated except for the lightning connector and a product manual. Note that there seems now to be 3 batches of the Beam, the initial batch came with cables that featured a single cable silver color tone, the 2nd batch came with a now gold, black and silver toned cable although the braid used was the same, the 3rd batch also rocked the sleeker looking cables but with the Hi-Res certification, all these batches had the same specifications for the Audirect Beam DAC/AMP itself. The cables themselves have minimal fold retaining features which made them easy to store together with your DAPs or IEMs while still retaining the U shaped fold for the usual connection it would be used when paired with your mobile devices.

    [​IMG]
    The Audirect Beam itself has a metal body with minor linear futuristic curves to make the look not to boring. The left side of the Beam features the volume up and down wheel which can also be pressed down to aid music playback (pause/play/forward were the only functions that worked), the right side is bare while the topside featured Type-C connection while the bottom side featured the 3.5mm headphone out. The backside featured 4 screws along with a warranty sticker and minor product certification and codecs supported. All these ended with a semi-glossy finish offered in 4 colors (grayish black, cyan, green and the now “discontinued” orange). A single white indicator LED light is present as well to show PCM or DDS output. Linsoul provided me the grayish black which indeed seemed to be the most versatile looking from the 4. The metal body feels plastic at times and the edgy corners made it a not so good idea to be kept with your mobile phones but the 12g weight was great and with its 52x14x6mm dimensions, the Beam felt like your standard flashdrive or a cig lighter for some.

    Usability and Functionality
    [​IMG]
    With a flash drive/lighter-like feel, the Audirect Beam scored well with me in portability terms, it was easy to lug around as well as forget that you even brought it with you with just how it can fit virtually every decent sized pocket. The sharp edges makes it easy to identify when in those pockets and as I've said, made it hard to store with any mobile device that has a display which is basically present in everything now. The absence of a battery was great as it eliminated the hassle of needing to remember to charge it or the fact that it might run out when used, your paired mobile device is basically your battery indicator.

    The 3 cables that came with the Audirect Beam all worked as they should. The choice to go the type-c route for all its connections made it easier on my end with most of my devices sporting the type-c connection. The type-c to type-c connection cable worked great when connected to my OnePlus 3T and also to a OnePlus 6 device, no pesky settings needed, plug and play. Using the same type-c to type-c cable when connecting to my MSI GF62 8RE laptop was smooth as well, automatic driver installation kicked in and running in just a couple of seconds. The type-c to USB 2.0 cable also gave identical results when connected to the same laptop. The type-c to lightning cable wasn't tested since I am yet to welcome back once again any Apple device into my Windows and Android life.

    With a single white LED indicator which stays lit when in use and alternates between the PCM or DSD LED depending on the file type on playback, there was no SINGLE mention to any DISTINCT or EXACT power draw the Audirect Beam consumes when in fact this is a battery-less AMP/DAC makes it weird, they were able to get the numbers for all the SNR ration, Output Power, FR and everything else so PLEASE give a power draw number next time. I can't give you an exact battery usage it had on my OnePlus 3T but as I have observed, the Screen time dropped at around 20% my usual usage (4 hour intermittent FLAC playback). The built-in volume wheel worked great and when connected to my 3T and MSI laptop allowed for a 16-step volume adjustment although when connected to the xduoo x3ii, volume was fixed and can't be adjusted either from the DAP or from the Beam itself. The play/pause function worked great as well and pressing it twice allows for a track skip and 3 presses allows for a previous track playback.

    Sound Quality

    Sporting the ESS Sabre 9118 DAC chip which integrates the AMP on its circuitry already poses the Beam to exhibit a neutral sound signature. It didn't diverge from the predicted signature and after a month's use with it, it indeed showcased an overall neutral sound signature.

    The Audirect Beam's ability to decode DSD format made it a great companion for my laptop when I'm out and away from the reach of my Sony CAS-1 system. The sound output the Audirect Beam that made it great was its ability to have an almost pitch black background. It gave no hisses with any of the IEM's (BGVP DMG, DM6, Whizzer Kylin and Periodic Audio Be) I used it with.

    Adding the Audirect Beam in my audio chain (OnePlus 3T and MSI GF62 8RE with Foobar2000 v1.4) gave the lower frequency more depth and impact than extension. The midrange frequency improvement was focused on the upper midrange giving the sound a fuller resolution, clarity was notable as well compared when the Beam was removed from the chain. The higher frequency changes was minimal at best with treble extension made for a more articulate sounding experience. Imaging and soundstage was where the Audirect Beam made its mark, the instrumental harmonics were far more distinct and defined with emphasis on the depth rather than the left to right panning feature. The overall sound improvement given by the Beam was a crispier and clearer signature without much audible coloration to the sound.

    Conclusion
    [​IMG]
    With a name like “Beam” to be chosen to carry Audirect’s current TOTL DAC/AMP to new places, it is actually on point. The Audirect Beam makes for a compelling purchase given it is feature packed on a tiny body. I would personally prefer a less edgy silhouette or maybe just maybe a silicon case to make it usable while on the pocket when paired with our mobile devices. The two things the stood out as the biggest drawbacks for the Audirect Beam was the cable material change it made as it may serve a bad taste for those that purchased the Beam before the improvement. This feedback may be relative but I’ve asked around and the new connection cables were indeed much favored. The lack of the exact power draw numbers also leaves potential battery conscious audiophiles a void only filled by an actual device audition and usage. These drawbacks were however blanketed by the Beam’s ability to provide pitch black sound background with a clearer signature to any potential audio chain it will be added to. A bridge was crossed and not burnt with the Audirect Beam.
  4. Palash
    An All-rounder
    Written by Palash
    Published Feb 12, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Size (Ultra Portable),
    Vast connectivity,
    Physical controls,
    No background noise,
    Good sound,
    Powerful,
    Lower power consumption,
    Accessories.
    Cons - Lower frequency response could have better,
    Volume source dependent,
    Micro USB to Type C OTG cable not supplied.
    Introduction
    September16, 2016 Apple announced their iphone 7 without a headphone jack; but why? Because they have the ‘Courage ‘to do so. Wireless innovations knocking our doors and we still thinking about a headphone jack, the immediate answer for a missing headphone jack was Bluetooth headphones/Earphones. We all know the cause /effect theory but one thing to remember, a single cause can give birth many effects or I call them possibilities. One such possibility was ‘portable HI-FI ‘in palm of your hand. Popularity of type ‘C’ port strengthened that possibility and an ‘Ultra portable HI-FI ‘is here branded as Audirect Beam. Beam is the successor of Wistle DAC AMP from Audirect and I would like to thank Penonaudio for providing me a unit for review. In this review I have tried to cast my honest opinion on this ultra portable DAC AMP. One more thing, my review unit was supplied to me before Beam passed the High-Res certification so no high res sticker in my unit. At the time of writing this review Beam already successfully passed the High-Res certification.

    Specifications
    Output Power
    114dB TND+N, 2Vrms into 600 Ohms,
    108dB THD+N, 49mW into 32Ohms 1.1Vrms,
    Frequency response: 20-30000Hz (-0.15dB),
    Distortion: 0.0004%,
    S/N ratio: +125dB SNR, +120dB DNR,
    Input supports PCM: PCM 16-32bit, 32-384 KHz,
    Input supports DSD: DoP64, DoP128, Native DSD64/128/256,
    D/A Chip: ES9118 SABRE HiFi SoC,
    I.R. <1O,
    Amplifier Chips: ES9118,
    Input port: USB-C,
    Output Port: 3.5mm,
    Size (L/W/H):52x14x6mm,
    Weight: 12g

    Box Content
    Beam Dac Amp,
    Type-C to type-c cable,
    Type-C to lightning cable,
    Type-C to USB cable,
    Instructions manual.


    Buying Link - https://penonaudio.com/audirect-beam-usb-dac.html

    Source
    Beam can be used with almost any device (Phone, Tab, PC, and Laptop) available out there. For my testing I have used my Iphone SE, Samsung J7*, Pocophone f1, Windows 10 PC + Foobar and it worked flawlessly. For PC Audirect mentioned, Beam needs a specific driver (Link) but strangely it recognized by my windows 10 Pro PC immediately without any driver. Still I am using the drivers to use its ASIO mode. For mobile phones Beam successfully detected by Hiby Music App and working smoothly.
    *To Pair with Samsung J7 (Any other micro USB equipped Phone) I have used Fiio Cl06 cable (Buying Link – here). It is strange that Audirect didn’t supplied the micro USB to type C OTG cable but its working fine in practical situation with a third party cable.


    Setup

    To use Beam with mobile devices it doesn’t need any further setup, just plug and play. In case of PC/Laptop, you may have to install the mentioned drivers and after completing the installation process, Beam should appear as (hili-DAC (HS)) in your system's sound device list. Best thing is that Beam support Bit Perfect mode and DSD Native. To setup it in Foobar please install the components like (foo dsd asio proxy) and follow the instructions *)
    * Foobar – File – Preferences – Output (Select ASIO : foo_dsd_asio from drop down) – ASIO – Double click on foo_dsd_asio and select Bravo HD from drop down or keep the parameters as its showing in the pics and Apply then Ok .
    01.jpg 02.jpg 03.jpg
    04.jpg 05.jpg

    Tracks/ Albums used in this review
    Adele – 21
    Adele - 25
    Bob Marley & The Wailers - Kaya (40th Anniversary Edition)
    Eagles - Hotel California (40th Anniversary Expanded Edition)
    Eric Clapton - Unplugged (1992)
    Don Henley - I Can't Stand Still
    Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
    Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
    Ed Sheeran - ÷ (Deluxe)
    Nina Simone - The Best Of Nina Simone
    The Beatles - Abbey Road (Remastered)
    Michael McDonald - Wide Open
    Michael Jackson - Thriller


    IEMs used with Beam in this review

    Ibasso it01, BQEYZ KB100, Geek Wold GK3, Fiio FH1.

    Presentation, Design & Build Quality & Internals
    [​IMG]
    Audirect Beam's unboxing experience is straight forward. It comes in a 130x145x21 (HxWxD) white book type box. Design is minimalist and you can see the device through the cut out from the front of the box even before unboxing. All the specifications mentioned backside of the box.
    [​IMG]
    Box opens after pulling a magnetic side fold and opens look like a book. Inside box, Beam device is secured in its own cavity and all the accessories, instructions manual in another small box. Everything is secured well inside the boxes. For such a little 55 Cm x 15 cm device the box is a bit big but when spending 99$ you can expect at least a decent size box like that.

    [​IMG]
    Inside the Accessories box there are 3 short cables and an instructions manual.

    d.JPG
    Audirect Beam is available in four colors now (Grey, Golden, Green, Blue) and I have received the green one. The whole body is made out of two solid piece of Aluminum which also works like a heat distributor while using it for long terms but never noticed any high heating issue with my unit. Sharp edges and overall matt finish paint giving it a stylish and modern look. Front side of the device Audirect Logo, Beam branding, Volume +, Volume –, play/pause, PCM/DSD marking, hole for led lights are there. Back side we can see 4 black screws, warranty void sticker, printed Specs and Id number. Top side USB type c port, bottom side 3.5 mm audio out port and left side single multi function control button is present. Use of type C port is a fantastic idea because type C port is next future. Type C port also allows easy cable swap, high current supply and many future proof connectivity options. All of the 14 cm cable ends are gold plated and the cables are made out of silver plated OFC. So it’s clear that Beam is well designed, solid and stylish. Only missing thing, Beam is not waterproof.

    For internal designs it’s only mentioned that Beam is using ESS Sabre ES9118 DAC chip. For better
    understanding of that particular DAC chip and its feature you can visit ESS’s website here and there is a disassemble video of Beam in YouTube which is linked here.


    Sound

    Before proceeding to the sound analysis part here are some points I would like to mention.
    • Don’t expect an ultra portable device to sound like a desktop class or bulky battery powered device.
    • Measurements and graphs can’t bring the real time experience every time.
    • Don't use force volume setting in Tidal app.
    • While playing DSD through Foobar you can't control the volume in application.
    • Play/ Pause works with only Apps or Windows Player.
    • While using volume plus and minus a two step jump is noticed and the volume increase /decrease effect only applies to source. Keep volume 100% in your device and adjust it inside the application.
    • There is no background noise or hiss when playing or sitting it idle even with very sensitive IEMS.
    Bass
    Early ESS SABRE DACs has a tendency towards Neutral kind of sound and Beam is also not an exception. Lower frequency in Beam is not that prominent. Bass is fast accurate but a bit less in quantity though quality is good enough. Bass is punchy and not over powering, sub-bass extension is above the average and enough for a music lover. One thing is clear that bass is not muddy at all and renders good amount of energy in tracks. While listening tracks like ‘Thriller’ or ‘Billie Jean’ by Michael Jackson or ‘Instant Crush’ by Daft Punk you can immediately notice that the bass not that high but transition and control is actually very good. I am not a bass head; I like natural sound signature with a touch of warmth, and Beam is quite enjoyable for me. After pairing Beam with BQEYZ KB100 I immediately noticed that the synergy is actually pretty good and fun to listen.


    Mids

    When Beam first introduced itself, one of my friends from Singapore told me that Beam is good only in its treble region but after using it for more than 3 months myself I can clearly say Mids section in Beam is also very good. Mid range is neutral and transparent, relatively clean and detail retrieval is fantastic. Upper mid range is well extended and no harshness is there. Male and female vocals are crisp. My entire music collection is vocals and Beam managed to put a smile in my face, while listening my favorite tracks. The entire album ‘Wide Open’ by Michael McDonald with Beam sounded very good. Background instruments like acoustic guitars, piano and saxophone sounded crisp and energetic.

    Treble
    Lower frequency is the strongest part of Beam. You can say it’s the ‘Sabre Glare’ but the glare is not that high in Beam. Treble part is not that forwarded and not fatigue for long listening at all. Treble part is airy and packed with good amount of energy. Both quality and quantity is there and very good for metal and electronics music. When paired with Geek Wold Gk3, the combination just worked like a charm. So if the treble part is bothering you very much then just hook it up with your boring iems and see the results. The entire album ‘Kaya (40th Anniversary Edition)’ by Bob Marley is very much enjoyable with Beam.

    e.JPG

    Soundstage/ Instrument Separation
    Soundstage and instrument separation always depends on paired IEM or headphones. Describing soundstage and instrument separation of a DAC/AMP is a bit difficult because it scales according your headphone and earphone. I have used my old IEMs with all other sources earlier and while using the same earphone with Beam it’s clear that soundstage is not that wider side but capable of maintaining the airy stage, in simple words it’s above average. Instrument separation is actually very good. It performed very well with complex tracks which is unbelievable for such a small device.

    g.JPG

    Comparison
    Comparison between Hidizs Sonta II Dongle DAC & Audioquest Dragonfly Black


    The purpose of all this portable DAC AMPs is same but sound wise and function wise they are not so same. Apple started this DONGLE game and eventually tons of dongles available right now. Even few phone manufacturers providing an OEM type C to 3.5 mm dongle with their flagship phones in 2019 and they are just garbage.

    For around 30$ Hidizs Sonta II is a decent one. Built quality may be not superb but sonically it’s decent. It can also provide good amount of power and bit perfect decoding. In comparison with Beam, Sontata II can produce deeper bass. But mid section is not that resolving like Beam. Beam is also superior when comparing the detail retrieval capabilities. Function wise it’s nowhere near Beam. No physical control, only type C connector and no sampling indicator. Sonata II is too noisy where Beam is totally silent even with sensitive IEMS. So for 30$ it may be a good device but Audirect Beam is much superior.

    I am using my Audioquest Dragonfly Black for almost 1.5 years and it’s really a great portable device. Yes it’s almost 150$ and lacks lots of features that Beam offers still being a 99$ device. Sonically Dragonfly Black is tuned keeping in mind the lower frequencies. Lower frequencies are quite good but a bit slow. Beam’s lower frequency response is much more balanced with good speed. Mid-range in Beam is natural where in Dragonfly Black, it’s thick and lush. Treble section is well extended in Beam where in Dragonfly Black it’s overall controlled. If you want better details from you IEM/Headphones, Beam is a better option. Again in terms of connectivity and support, Beam is way ahead. Dragonfly Black manufactured only for PC/Laptops, using it with IOS and Android devices is painful. Lack of volume control and play pause is also a drawback of Audioquest Dragonfly Black.

    f.JPG


    Conclusion

    For such a small device Audirect Beam packed with tons of useful features. From vast connectivity to superior sound, Beam worth its price and when portability is your top priority Beam is the only option available.


    images

  5. cqtek
    Lots of sound in very little space
    Written by cqtek
    Published Jan 5, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Completely flat and extensive frequency response, above 40 kHz.
    - Overall sound quality.
    - Very small size and weight.
    - Cable quality.
    Cons - Micro USB cable missing.
    - Looks like some specifications aren't real.
    - Sensitive function stick. Does not work with the same precision in all environments.
    - Absence of physical buttons for the volume on the front.
    Purchase link:

    https://penonaudio.com/audirect-beam-usb-dac.html

    Link to the Store:

    https://penonaudio.com/

    Presentation and personal preferences

    I've been an electronic technical engineer for 20 years. I studied that career because my great passion was Hi-Fi. But for more than 15 years I have been working as a programmer of production control systems based on artificial vision.

    The sound profile I like could be represented as ¬. I like bass (the sub bass above all), forward voices and soft trebles, but that provide a lot of clarity, separation and detail. I like the natural sound, full of air and nuances, as well as enjoying a great stage and three-dimensional recreation. I prefer the warm profile to V-profiles or mid-centric. And I run away from brilliant profiles.

    Specifications:
    • Output Power:
      • 114dB TND+N, 2Vrms into 600Ω.
      • 108dB THD+N, 49mW into 32Ω 1.1Vrms.
    • Frequency response:20-30000Hz(-0.15dB)
    • Distortion:0.0004%
    • S/N ratio:+125dB SNR, +120dB DNR
    • Input supports PCM:PCM 16-32bit, 32-384KHz
    • Input supports DSD:DoP64, DoP128, Native DSD64/128/256
    • D/A Chips:ES9118 SABRE HiFi SoC
    • I.R.<1Ω
    • Amplifier Chips:ES9118
    • Input port:USB-C
    • Output Port:3.5mm
    • Size (L/W/H):52x14x6mm
    • Weight:12g
    Packaging

    2018-12-19_20-07-08_.jpg 2018-12-19_20-07-35_.jpg 2018-12-19_20-07-55_.jpg 2018-12-19_20-09-16_.jpg

    Package Dimensions (H x W x D):
    • 130x145x21 mm
    Contents:
    • Beam
    • Type-C to type-c cable
    • Type-C to lightning cable
    • Type-C to USB cable
    • Instruction manual
    The dimensions of the packaging are very large for how small the product is, it certainly comes well protected. The package is opened like a book by using a magnetic cover. Inside, embedded in a cardboard box, is the Beam. Next to it, in another box, there are three sachets with each of the cables.
    There is no USB Type C to micro USB cable when many Smartphones still use that type of connector.

    Construction and design

    2018-12-19_20-14-05_.jpg

    The Beam is very small, you don't get the idea of its dimensions until you have it in your hands. It is extremely light although it is metallic. It is made up of two pieces assembled by 4 screws, which gives it even better strength and durability. The blue colour is very striking. All the written legends are white, as well as the logo of the brand.
    Headphone output is 3.5mm unbalanced.
    The USB input is type C.
    The connection cables have very good quality connectors, linked by very flexible tricolour braided cables.

    2018-12-19_20-15-29_.jpg

    To the left of the Beam there is a stick that offers two functions: volume (movement up or down), Play/Pause (push). The use as a push button (Play/Pause functions) is fast and precise. On the other hand, the use as a volume does not respond quickly in Windows: it must be kept pressed upwards to increase the volume or downwards to decrease it. Both operations respond slowly and the volume jumps are considerable. However used with my Android mobile, both functions are immediate. I have only noticed that the volume jumps are a little big, although this detail may depend on the Smartphone itself.

    Ergonomics, connectivity

    Due to the size of the Beam, it fits anywhere. I still can't find the ergonomic function stick, I would have preferred fixed buttons.

    My smartphone has micro-USB, whose cable is not included, so you need to buy another cable to connect it.
    I managed to use the Beam with my smartphone using the Hiby Music app.

    For the connectivity with the PC with Windows was necessary the installation of a driver that can be downloaded from the web:

    http://www.audirect.cc/faq

    Once installed and after restarting the system, I ran Foobar2000. The reproduction was not fluent using the driver ASIO Bravo-HD (stock), however using ASIO4ALL 2 I managed to solve the reproduction problems.

    2018-12-19_20-16-16_.jpg

    Measurements

    I measured the output of the Beam using a Fluke digital oscilloscope, using pure tones encoded in FLAC with a resolution of 24 bits and a sampling frequency of 96 kHz, making a frequency sweep between 20 Hz to 46 kHz. As a player I have used the Foobar2000 in my Windows PC, using the Asio4All driver. With these measurements, it has become clear that the Beam meets the Hi-Res specifications, because it is able to reproduce without problems tones above even 40 kHz.

    The measurements have been taken at the maximum possible volume without visible distortion being observed in the reproduced waves. Fixed resistors of 32 Ohms, 100 Ohms and 320 Ohms were used as loads.

    The linearity of the frequency response between 20 Hz and 20Khz, the range defined as audible, is almost perfect, the difference is only a few millivolts. Above that frequency, the drop is somewhat higher, but even up to 30 kHz the linearity is still excellent.

    There is a feature in the Beam's voltage delivery: the higher the connected load, the higher the voltage delivered. You might think this fact is due to a high output impedance, but in my opinion I think it's some kind of "autogain" system. Even so, in the specifications it says that the Beam is capable of delivering 2V at 600 Ohms. This time I do not have loads with that resistance, but seeing that for 320 Ohms is only capable of delivering less than 1.15V, it is difficult to reach that number.

    As can be seen in the following graph, the Beam delivers 0.71V to 32 Ohms, 0.95V to 100 Ohms and 1.14V to 320 Ohms.

    Audiodirect Beam.png

    Sound

    The sound of the Beam has several very marked characteristics, in my opinion: the sound produced is totally flat, there is no doubt about it after the previous graphic. There is no enhancement or recession in any of the audible frequencies.

    On the other hand, its sound is quite wide, very ethereal and zenithal. It provides a lot of separation and depth, especially to the bass. That's why I find its sound with a certain warmth.

    Another characteristic is the softness of the sound. Compared to the Fiio Q1 Mk1, whose response is also quite flat, the highs are less penetrating and hard. In the Beam, the music is more harmonious and delicate, while in the Q1 it is more direct and aggressive. Following the comparison with the Q1, I haven't missed anything in the bass, neither using IEMs nor closed headphones, like the SoundMagic HP150. And as I said before, I'm amazed at how it's able to go down and deliver power to the sub-bass without turning pale.

    In other aspects where the softness of the Beam is reflected, it is in the sibilances, even in the songs more susceptible to them, they are more subtle than in Q1.

    On the other hand, the Beam has some electronic features that must be taken into account, as it can alter the sound of the connected headphones. Earlier I talked about the possibility that the Beam has some "autogain" circuit. Maybe this feature, or maybe it is that the output impedance is not less than 1 Ohms, as specified in the box, modifies the frequency response of some connected headphones. I've checked sensitive sound differences in some IEMs in the comparisons between the Beam and the Q1 (whose output impedance is proven to be less than 1). While with others, the differences have only been due to the change of source.

    2018-12-19_20-16-41_.jpg

    Conclusion

    The Audiodirect Beam is a remarkable product. It is excellent in size, weight and functionality.

    The use is not just perfect in all scenarios: the stick is sensitive and its operation is not the same on PC as with the smartphone.

    I recommend it for use with IEMs or headphones with low/medium impedance and/or high sensitivity, both on PCs and Smartphones, whose audio output is not very adequate.

    The sound is very good, starting from a magnificent and flat frequency response, the scene is wide and deep, the separation is noticeable and the presentation is smooth and musical. I find no substantial differences, used with the PC or with the smartphone.

    The accessories are good, quality and very useful, just miss another cable with micro USB connector.
    On the negative side, the specifications do not seem to be 100% met.

    2018-12-19_20-17-34_.jpg

    Headphones used during analysis
    • NiceHCK M6
    • 1More Triple Driver
    • Dunu DN-1000
    • Fiio FH1
    • SoundMagic HP150
    Ratings
    • Construction: 90
    • Comfort: 70
    • Accessories: 80
    • Sound: 90
    • Quality/price: 80
  6. antdroid
    Good Detail but Missing Low End Performance
    Written by antdroid
    Published Dec 27, 2018
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Good detail
    Good mid and treble performance
    High quality cables
    Cons - Not a fan of the control stick
    Missing low end response
    [​IMG]

    The Audirect Beam is a new USB-C DAC/Amp that works on computers and mobile devices like Android phones and tablets. This was provided to me for review purposes by Linsoul Tech. I actually was not expecting this item to arrive in my last shipment of stuff, but it came.

    I thought it was quite interesting and finally have had time to try it out.

    First off, let's get some specs out of the way.

    The minature DAC features the ESS Sabre ES9118 DAC and claims to deliver up to 125dB signal-to-noise ratio and up to -114dB Total Harmonic Distortion. Pretty impressive numbers, and similar to what you'd see in ESS brochures. Finally, the output power is the real seller here, as it states it can provide up to 2VRms into 600Ohms.


    Background/Experience:

    I've owned a few of these type of devices in the past, but none of them have really stuck with me, despite the lost of the 3.5mm headphone jack on my primary phone devices. I've tried cheap stuff from Fiio like the K1 to the SMSL devices to the higher end Sabaj DA3.

    All of these devices do their job as intended but have always had one big issue for me and that is the power. Yes, many of them have weak power but I'm talking more about power consumption. These do not have batteries in them, so powering them does drain your device. This isn't a big problem on a computer where it's already powered to an outlet, but using it on a mobile device can be a burden on the device's battery.

    Since it uses USB-C, the mobile device can't charge at the same time, unless you carry around a mobile hub with you that has USB Power Passthrough (I actually do have a couple of these...).

    So, none of them really fit the bill for me. But I'm still interested in hearing how this one works.

    I've had a little more luck with the battery-powered ones like the Fiio Q1/Q1 Mk 2 and the ES100 Bluetooth/USB Amp. They work well and can power themselves, though not as easy to carry around as these tiny little "dongles." (I hate that term!)


    [​IMG]



    Build and Accessories:

    The device is made out of lightweight aluminum and is quite small. It's about the same size as the SMSL and Sabaj units I've tried in the past and slimmer than the popular AudioQuest Dragonfly series.

    The left side of the device features a very odd springy toggle that controls source volume and when pressed in, controls Play/Pause. This is a unique look, and I must say, I do not like it at all. It's very easy to trigger volume up and down and even more likely to accidentally pause music.

    The device does come with a nice selection of OTG cables though. It includes a USB-A to USB-C, USB-C to USB-C, and a Lightning to USB-C cable for use with your computer, android, and iOS devices. The cables are well designed and attractive, more so than the ones that came with my FiiO Q1 Mk2.


    Sound/Usability:

    I've tried this device with my computer as well as an Android device. I have not tried it on my iPad yet. Pairing it with these devices was as simple as plug and play. Both my Windows 10 laptop and my Android Pie phone was able to recognize and switch over to it immediately and I didn't miss a beat.

    Volume on this device is plenty. There's a lot of spare headroom even on my Hifiman HE560 planar over-ear headphone. I originally plugged the Unique Melody ME1 IEM into it and was a bit shocked at how loud it sounded with my Windows volume down at 8.

    I then tried plugging in the Campfire Orion, which I have on loan from Headphones.com. The Campfire IEM is notoriously sensitive to hiss and noise, and I am happy to report that the Audirect Beam does not have any noticeable noise at all with the Orion.

    Finally, I gave it a good listen through some of my playlists. This IEM has a similar sound to what I find a lot of ESS Sabre DACs sound like -- very detailed, analytical and neutral/cold. The treble is accentuated on these and as mentioned, sound very clean and detailed. What I found missing right off the bat was the low end presence. It lacked bass.

    I threw on a test track, Massive Attack's Unfinished Symphony, slapped on my HE560 and didn't feel overwhelmed with rumbling extension. The bass was very clean, but was missing the oomph I expect. Just to make myself assured, I unplugged the headphones and plugged it back into the Monolith THX-AAA amp on my desk and played the same track at a similar (normalized) volume and I could feel the energy of the opening bit of that track and some rumble around my ear pads. It's that sensation I was missing in the Beam.

    So just to compare, I decided to plug the headphone into my laptop directly. Now, this isn't as crazy as you think. My MSI laptop actually features an ESS Sabre DAC/Amp system on-board, which was a selling point for me. It has a surprising amount of detail and power to drive most headphones well. With the HE560, again, I felt the low end rumble that was missing with the Beam. It wasn't quite the same as what I heard on a full blown THX-AAA amp with balanced connection, but it was in-between what I had heard on the Beam and desktop amp. My laptop wins.



    [​IMG]


    Wrap-Up

    I unfortunately do not have my other portable dac/amps with me to test with as they are on loan with others, but from memory, I feel like the Beam excels in detail retrieval and clarity, while missing low end performance.

    The whole set comes in at $99 and is actually a solid choice based on sound quality and package contents. I did not like the controls however, and that's a big thing for a device like this. The missing bass quantity (not quality), is also another strike.

    So, in the end, I find that this is a perplexing one to review. It does a lot of things very well. It does a couple important things very average to mediocre. I'll just put it at that.


    Links

    Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Audirect-Portable-Earphone-Amplifier-Android/dp/B07HP3719J
  7. IryxBRO
    AUDIRECT BEAM — ultra-portable USB DAC
    Written by IryxBRO
    Published Dec 14, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - flawless, easy to use, convenient controls, small, fairly balanced sound
    Cons - no microUSB->microUSB adapter
    Finally there is something else rather than IEMs to talk about. IEMs are good piece of technology but some rest is required while running out of words to describe the next pair. Today we would jump to another trending stuff — external ultra-portable DAC&AMP which purpose is to pump the sound quality of a smartphone, laptop or tablet. But not only that — it can also turn back the time and equip your device with beloved warm, tube-like :) analog 3.5mm audio jack, if you’ve happened to miss that one!

    The topic of our review today is AUDIRECT BEAM ultra-portable USB DAC&AMP — this is the second product of this type in AUDIRECT lineup after Whistle. This brand has 5 years experience in R&D of different video-audio appliance, mostly known for their successful HDX1000 and BD1 mediaplayers. Now they have decided to turn their sight at ultra-portable DACs due to the latest trend of many popular smartphone makers to abandon 3.5mm audio jacks (which is sad, but true). The idea is not new, but why not having one more option to bring 3.5mm back…

    [​IMG]

    AUDIRECT BEAM technical specifications:
    • Output Power:
      • -114dB TND+N, 2Vrms | 600Ω
      • -108dB THD+N, 49mW | 32Ω 1.1Vrms, up to 1.1Vrms
    • Frequency response: 20-30000Hz (-0.15dB)
    • Distortion: 0.0004%
    • S/N ratio: +125dB SNR, +120dB DNR
    • Input supports PCM: PCM 16-32bit/32-384KHz
    • Input supports DSD: DoP64/128, Native DSD64/128/256
    • DAC Chip: ES9118 SABRE HiFi SoC
    • AMP Chip: ES9118
    • I.R.: <1Ω
    • Inputs: USB-C
    • Outputs: 3.5mm
    • Dimensions: LxWxH: 52x14x6mm
    • Weight: 12g
    UPDATE: just got to know that AUDIRECT BEAM has passed HiRES certification (JAS) and now would have HiRES sticker on it

    ES9118 DAC chip belongs to SABRE HIFI grade SoC which integrates DAC with a proprietary ESS headphone amplifier and output switch. Some additional infromation from the official website:

    «ES9118 HiFi SoC leverages the company’s patented 32-bit HyperStream architecture to deliver up to 125 dB SNR and -112 dB Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise (THD+N) ensuring audiophile quality sound all the way to the headphones. It also supports the industry’s most popular high resolution and lossless audio formats including FLAC, ALAC, AIFF and WAV»

    [​IMG]

    Among other features there are:
    • Enough power to drive up to 300Ω earphones
    • Physical jog dial with volume +|- and PLAY|PAUSE funсtions
    • OFC, silver-coated copper wires
    • No battery inside, power over USB
    • Compatible with iOS/Mac/Win10/Android operation system
    Packaging, build quality and design:

    Didn’t expect to see such a small device in a such a large box.

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, it is neat and stiff enough to protect all the contents. AUDIRECT logo at the front and BEAM description at the back. Accessories are packed in a separate box.

    [​IMG]

    Box contents:
    • BEAM DAC
    • microUSB typeC -> USB adapter cable
    • microUSB typeC -> microUSB typeC adapter cable
    • microUSB typeC -> Lightning adapter cable
    [​IMG]

    Kind of embarassing that there is no microUSB typeC -> microUSB cable included… Just another adapter but covering much more smartphones, potentially. We understand that most of the smartphones running Android OS with no 3.5mm audio output are already equipped with USB typeC port but it doesn’t mean that this DAC won’t be used to upgrade the sound quality even if there is one… Come on, AUDIRECT, make everyone happy and don’t create artificial limitations to various usage scenarios!

    [​IMG]

    This little DAC is made of 2 pieces of aluminum — top and bottom covers with four screws holding the whole structure as one piece. Quality of shell crafting is decent. Parts are perfectly aligned. All labels and indicators are neat.

    [​IMG]

    There are two small LEDs located at the front to indicate current stream type (PCM or DSD). Spring loaded VOLUME up|down dial is combined with PLAY|PAUSE function and located on the left edge. Button is convenient to use and have a good grip. Top edge has microUSB typeC input and bottom edge contains only 3.5mm audio output. No other elements and controls.

    [​IMG]

    BEAM doesn’t have the battery inside and totally power-dependent of the source device. We’d say that this is more proper way rather than having another device that should be charged independently and would have more weight.

    Usage scenarios:

    [​IMG]

    We think that this device would be useful in the next scenarios:
    1. Adding 3.5mm audio output to a smartphone|laptop|tablet if there isn’t one
    Scenario 1 is obvious — if there is not 3.5mm output and you have good headphones with 3.5mm jack BEAM would be a good choice in terms of sound quality characteristics. No doubt that there are other ultra-portable DACs available to solve the same issue but BEAM is another good option.

    2. Upgrading sound quality of a smartphone|laptop|tablet not regarding whether there is native 3.5mm audio output or not.

    This implies that you are not satisfied with the audio quality of your device or|and that is BEAM is surerior in this respect. There are some capable smarphones out there nowadays that would be directly competing, but only few. Same goes for the laptops. Tablets are usually left aside when it comes to audio quality — good that they can play sound at all :) In our case it is Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X smartphone with low power&low quality sound processing and Lenovo Y500 laptop with regular integrated IntelHD sound card. So, we would opt to use external USB DAC based on more capable DAC&AMP chips to increase the audio quality.

    [​IMG]

    3. Adding some juice when driving higher loads (headphones with higher impedance)

    Scenario 3 is the addition to either scenario 1 or 2. Headphones with higher impedance would require more output power from a device to be driven to a better sound quality level in terms of dynamics, amplitude, volume, etc. Regular smartphones or tablets would usually give out ~30mW power while BEAM is capable of ~50mW @ 32Ω resulting in more volume and more driving ability.

    4. Adding 32bit/384kHz and DSD/native DSD playback to a device

    Another addition to the previous ones but in terms of source device compatibility with various audio formats. Passing the stream to modern external DAC would remove some source limitations and allow you to listen to more sophisticated formats. For example, Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X doesn’t want to eat DSD files unless you would connect external USB DAC. But even if it did — it would still be DSD over PCM and not DSD native.

    Getting it to work:

    AUDIRECT BEAM is a user-friendly device. Using it under Windows 10/MAC OS/iOS and Android is straight forward — just connect and it would be recognized by the system. In case of Windows 10 it should be hiliDAC (HS) . If Windows10 has not recognized this device or if you are still running Windows 7/8 there is an additional driver which can be found HERE. This driver seems to belong to ASIO family which is even better than system Windows10 driver but would result in larger audio lag. The next step in Windows environment would be going to recognized device options and selecting the maximum desired audio quality (right click on volume icon in tray -> sounds -> playback devices tab -> select the device -> properties -> additional -> select 24/32bit, 192/384kHz -> ok). Run some music player like Foobar2000 and pass the stream over WASAPI (push) or ASIO to BEAM DAC. No problems in our case.

    [​IMG]

    Using it with Android is even easier — just connect BEAM and run some audio player like HibyMusic. You can also set HibyMusic to use external DAC in «Exclusive HQ Audio mode» to get bit-perfect stream.

    Can’t tell anything about iOS or MAC OS — we don’t have any APPLE devices to test BEAM with.

    Sound quality:

    Tested with Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X, Lenovo Y500, Anew U1 IEMs

    [​IMG]

    Connected to smartphone:

    The differences in sound quality between bare 3.5mm audio output of Xiaomi smartphone and BEAM are apparent: better presence and bass extension, more powerful and full-bodied midbass, crispier and brighter treble together with better extension as well. Some of those differences are the result of better driving ability while others are due to more capable DAC/AMP SoC. Native smartphone audio output sounds thin, parts of the midbass dynamics is totally lost, deep bass sounds blurry and the treble is far too simple and limited. Therefore, concerning that BEAM is a little and lightweight device that doesn’t require charging — it is a good option for a smartphone to upgrade SQ and add the ability to play more formats even while on the go.

    [​IMG]

    Connected to laptop:

    Almost the same differences in sound here, although less emphasized. Laptop audio output is more powerful and can produce some good midbass dynamics with better extension of lower end but the crispness and extension of treble as well as overall resolution are still better when passing music through BEAM. Using ASIO instead of WASAPI should be capable of even better results but we would sacrifice that in favor of less audio lag which is vital while watching video content.

    Compared to Hidizs SONATA HD DAC cable:

    [​IMG]

    Hidizs Sonata HD cable is very similar device purpose-wise but very different in terms of design approach. It is even smaller, doesn’t have any controls or indicators and is not that capable when it comes to DSD or maximized bit depth. There are some major sound differences when compared to BEAM: Sonata can reach deeper bass levels but with less texturing, it emphasizes treble more and elevates upper mids. Moreover, lower mids are a bit thin and underpowered resulting in more apparent U-shaped tuning. It definitely has a brighter tonality and bit more power to drive higher loads. More prone to hissing, though. BEAM sounds more natural and balanced, with more even distribution of gains on lower and treble ranges. Midbass is rich and powerfull on both devices.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion:

    In our case AUDIRECT BEAM served its purpose very well. It is a clear win over intergrated audio interfaces in our smartphone|laptop and really managed to increase its sound quality with a better driving ability and more capable DAC element base. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of revelation but is able to normalize frequency gain levels, increase instrument separation and add more resolution. Sound is fairly balanced and detailed to provide good listening experience while at home or on the go. It also did provide our smartphone with the ability to play more advanced audio formats like DSD (native) together with higher bit depth and sampling frequencies of FLAC files. Furthermore, BEAM is user-friendy, doesn’t require charging, has the convenient formfactor to be carried and used in a pocket, free of software and hardware issues. Consequently, all minor and major characteristics of AUDIRECT BEAM are looking implemented right as expected and this little device could be recommended for anyone who wants some more juice and quality of sound or simply misses 3.5mm audio output.

    AUDIRECT BEAM is available for purchase at PenonAudio store
  8. Sebilion
    Neutral sound, less bass than expected
    Written by Sebilion
    Published Dec 13, 2018
    3.0/5,
    Pros - compact, sturdy cables, good mids and highs. A nice selection of colours
    Cons - lack in bass and lower end. Volume and frequency feel like it is source dependent.
    I am not a professional reviewer, so this is just a simple review to share my experience with everyone.
    I used different genres of music from rock to pop, folk and metal.
    I was expecting more from this. The highs and mids are natural and are not recessed, which is good. When it comes to the lower end though things change, the bass is lacking.
    The DAC is very source depending as well, I can hear it differently with my Samsung s9 and differently with my LG g7.
    On my Samsung, I can hear the improvement on my magaosi k3 pro and because they are warm earphones the bass is still present and the overall experience is very nice, but on my BGVP DMG6, the bass is lacking quite a lot. On my LG bass is lacking regardless the earphones I am using. It will be perfect for someone who likes a neutral response, it is just not my cup of tea. Wish I knew the lack of bass before buying it.

    images

    1. 20181213_145056.jpg
    2. 20181213_145101.jpg
  9. Moonstar
    The Audirect Beam Review
    Written by Moonstar
    Published Sep 5, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Great Sound (especially the midrange area),
    Good detail retrieval,
    Low to none hissing,
    Lots of OTG Cables (inclusive Apple lighting),
    Plug and Play capability for Android and IOS
    Cons - No battery means additional battery drain for the source
    The Audirect Beam Review



    About Audirect:

    Audirect is part of Shenzen Micronetwork Technology Co., Ltd. located in Shenzen – China and is engaged since more than 6 years in the development, production and sales of portable DAC’s and the Audirect Beam is the latest DAC / AMP of the company.

    Audirect Webpage: Audirect.cc



    [​IMG]



    Disclaimer:

    I would like to thank Audirect for providing me a sample of the Audirect Beam DAC/AMPfor review purposes. I am not affiliated with Audirect beyond this review and these words reflect my true, unaltered opinions about the product.

    PS: This review was originally posted on my Review Blog, which I want now to share with the Head-Fi community:

    Original Post: http://moonstarreviews.net/audirect-beam-review/



    Price:


    The MSRP Price for the Audirect Beam portable DAC/AMP is $99,00 USD

    Purchase Link: Audirect Beam & Accessories



    Introduction:

    The Audirect Beam DAC&AMP is a small very small sized Hi-Fi DAC and Headphone Amplifier created for people who are not satisfied with sound of their Phone, Table and onboard soundcard of their PC or Laptop.


    [​IMG]




    Package and Accessories:

    The device comes in a relative thin and small white card-box that sports the brand and model (Beam) name. There is also a small window where you can see the Beam without to open the box. This box is including the following items;

    • 1 pcs x Audirect Beam DAC&AMP
    • 1 pcs x USB 2.0 to USB Type-C OTG cable
    • 1 pcs x USB Type-C to USB Type-C OTG cable
    • 1 pcs x Lightning to USB Type-C OTG Cable

    [​IMG]


    Audirect Beam has put some nice accessories in to the package with almost 3 different UBC Type-C OTG cables. Especially the Apple Lightning to USB Type-C OTG cable is a hard to find and a very nice addition in my opinion.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    Design and Build Quality:

    The Audirect Beam is a very small and lightweight device with a well made/solid metal housing, which has a dimension of 52x14x6mm and a net weight of 12g (according to Audirect specs).


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    At the top is the USB-Type C female data connection.


    [​IMG]


    At the bottom of the device is the 3.5mm headphone jack (unbalanced).


    [​IMG]


    On the front of the DAC is the Audirect and the Beam logo. There are also two (2) led indicators, one for PCM and one for DSD conversation.


    [​IMG]


    On the back of the device are four (4) screws and information like certificates/serial number.


    [​IMG]


    At the right side of the Beam is an action key dedicated for volume up, down and play/pause functions.


    [​IMG]

    They are two color options, which are gold and grey, but my personal favorite is the one in grey color, which looks pretty nice.




    Technical Specifications:

    • DAC : ES9018 HiFi SoC
    • AMP : ES9018 HiFi SoC
    • Output Power : -114dB TND+N, 2Vrms @ 600Ω -108dB THD+N, 49mW @ 32Ω
      up to 1.1Vrms
    • Frequency response : 20-30000Hz (-0.15dB)
    • Distortion : 0.0004%
    • SNR : +125dB SNR, +120dB DNR
    • PCM : PCM 16-32bit, 32-384KHz
    • DSD : DoP64, DoP128, Native DSD64/128/256
    • Internal resistance : <1Ω
    • Input port : USB-C
    • Output port : 3.5mm
    • Dimensions : 52x14x6mm
    • Weight : 12g


    [​IMG]



    Hardware & Software:

    The Audirect Beam DAC & AMP is a pretty small device with some nice hardware specs.


    DAC & AMP Section:

    The Audirect Beam DAC/AMP sports the ES9018 SABRE HiFi SoC (System on a Chip), which is made by the company ESS Technology Inc. This HiFi type System-On-Chip (SoC) integrates the Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) and the headphone amplifier with an output switch.


    [​IMG]



    The ES9118 HiFi SoC is supporting the ESS patented 32-bit HyperStream architecture to deliver up to 125 dB SNR and -112 dB Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise (THD+N). It also supports some of the popular high resolution and lossless audio formats including FLAC, ALAC, AIFF and WAV.


    [​IMG]



    Supported Audio Formats:

    • The Audirect Beam supports the following formats that I have tested out during this review;
    • DSD (64/128), FLAC, ALAC, APE, WAV, AAC, OGG, MP3, WMA

    Drivability:

    The onboard amplifier, which is integrated to the ES9018 SoC is has a output rated of 49mW into 32Ω and 2Vrms into 600Ω. It was capable to driver my Sony SA3000 and Audio-Technica ATH-M50 to very loud volume levels.


    [​IMG]



    Battery Draining:

    The Audirect Beam shows less battery drain than my old Fiio E10K, the first generation of Audioquest Dragonfly 1.0, Dragonfly Black and Red.



    Hissing:

    One of the remarkable and pretty surprising features of the Audirect Beam is the clean sound output. The Beam sounds pretty clean with some of my sensitive IEM’s like the iBasso IT04 and the DUNU Falcon-C.


    Equipments used for this review:

    • DAC’s : Audirect Beam, Audioquest Dragonfly Black
    • IEM’s : Vsonic Ares, iBasso IT04, Campfire Audio Polaris, Final E5000, FLC8N
    • Earbuds : Simphonio Dragon2+, Astrotec Lyra Collection
    • Headphones : Audio-Technica ATH50M, Sony SA3000
    • Source : Meizu 7 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, iPad Air 2, Dell Inspirion 5521


    [​IMG]



    Albums & tracks used for this review:


    • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
    • Opeth – Damnation (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
    • Metallica – Sad bu True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
    • Jehan Barbur – Yollar (Spotify)
    • Minor Empire – Bulbulum Altin Kafeste (Spotify)
    • London Grammar – Interlud (Live) (Flac 24bit/44kHz)
    • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Dire Straits – Money for Nothing (DSD 64)
    • Otto Liebert & Luna Negra – The River (DSF) – Binaural Recording
    • GoGo Penguin – Fanfares (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Adam Taylor – Colour to the Moon (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
    • Casey Abrams – Robot Lover (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Lorde – Team (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
    • Tom Player – Resonace Theory “Album” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Deeperise feat. Jabbar – Move On (Spotify)



    Sound Analysis:

    The Audirect Beam has a coherent and well balanced smooth and slightly bright tonality, which sounds in general very musical.

    I have burn-in the Audirect Beam for approx. 150 hours before I wrote this review.

    Please note that this is a low budget DAC and all my comments about the sound quality are in consideration of this price range.


    [​IMG]

    Bass:

    The bass presentation of the Audirect Beam is pretty fast, controlled and linear. The sub-bass extension is moderate and the quantity is on an average level. Even if I wanted a bit more sub-bass depth, this is a situation that challenges the limits of this DACAMP on the basis of efficiency.

    The Audirect Beam is pretty good in terms of speed and control that defines the detail level of the bass. The bass presentation of the Beam is more in a punchy than boomy character and there is no muddiness or interference while presenting some bass heavy genres like Trance, EDM, etc.

    The bass quantity will satisfy most users with the exception of people who prefer presentation on a bass-head level.



    Midrange:

    The midrange is the focus point of the Audirect Beam. This device is very successful in the midrange especially for its size and its price, with its slightly bright, relative neutral and transparent, clean and clear midrange presentation.



    Vocals:

    The Audirect Beam pretty successful with female vocals, because of the relative prominent, detailed and well extended upper-midrange presentation. A noticeable plus point of the Beam is the ability, not to be harsh with its relative transparent vocal presentation. I liked the Beam with both mezzo-soprano and soprano level female vocals, because of the pretty good transition and control, form the top to the end and vice versa.

    When it comes to male vocals; the Audirect Beam shows a deep, clean and transparent presentation, without any remarkable interference and muddiness. The source is important in this manner, because if you use an IEM with a neutral tuning, the Beam will sound slightly thinner than normal with male vocals.


    [​IMG]



    Instruments:

    The Audirect Beam shows a slightly bright, close to neutral, natural and clear instrument tonality. The Beam represents instruments in a detailed and airy way, with good separation and definition. Pianos sounding slightly bright and pronounced, acoustic guitars are natural, transparent and fast, violins are slightly bright and doesn’t sounding harsh, but there is missing only a hint or warmness with violas.



    Upper Midrange and Treble:

    The upper midrange of the Audirect Beam is fairly pronounced and controlled, without any remarkable interference and sibilance. Instruments like piano, violin or cymbals sounding pretty fast and controlled.

    The treble range of the Audirect Beam is not very upfront or too recessed and sounds quite neutral and clear. The treble extension is at a moderate level, but this makes a fatigue free listening possible.

    The treble quantity and intension is pretty good and is able to catch the treble speed of some fast treble intensive genres like metal music, which is in my opinion a noticeable advantage. This ability makes a good detail rendering possible. The Beam is pretty successful in terms of control, emphasis and extension with instruments like side flutes while rising from the upper-midrange to the treble range. The Beam will also satisfy those who like a good detail rendering while listening to genres like electronic music.



    Soundstage:

    The Audirect Beam offers a very spacious and airy stage, where the instruments have enough space to spread out. This feature is also avoiding any conflicting and disorganizing of the instruments.

    The soundstage has slightly less depth than its wideness, but don’t get me wrong, because the soundstage is by no way shallow. One other noticeable attribute of the soundstage is arrangement of instruments, which performs better in the horizontal direction than in the vertical.


    [​IMG]



    Comparison:

    Audirect Beam versus Audioquest Dragonfly Black:

    Both the Audirect Beam and the Audioquest Dragonfly Back are very capable devices in a price range between $100,00 – 150,00 USD.


    [​IMG]

    The Dragonfly Black has warmer tonality with an additional emphasis at the lower end.

    The bass of the Audirect Beam sounds more linear and balanced than those of the Dragonfly Black, which has additional impact. The sub-bass of the Dragonfly Black are showing more depth and rumble, but have slightly less extension and definition compared to the Beam.

    The bass of the Audirect Beam is faster and has better layering than those of the Dragonfly Black.

    The midrange of the Dragonfly Black is warmer and ticker than those of the Audirect Beam, which has a more natural and transparent presentation. The Dragonfly Black sounds very delicious with male vocals, while the Audirect Beam has the upper hand for female vocals because of its brighter tonality and upper midrange emphasis.

    Instruments like Bass Guitars and Drums sounding better with the Dragonfly Black, while the Audirect Beam sounds more natural with instruments like violins, side flutes etc.

    The Audirect Beam has a brighter, more pronounced top end, which is superior to the Audioquet Dragonfly Black in terms of treble extension and control. The Beam sounds also slightly more detailed than the Dragonfly Black that is otherwise an already good performer at this price range.

    When it comes to soundstage performance, both have an above average soundstage wideness, where the Beam has a slightly wider presentation. The soundstage depth is for both devices on a moderate level.



    Conclusion:


    The Audirect Beam is probably one of the best sounding portable DAC/AMP’s in its price tag. The great sound, tiny size and lower power consumption makes it to a nice option for those who are not satisfied with the performance of their phone, tablet and onboard soundcard of their Laptop or Desktop PC.



    Pos and Cons:

    • + Great Sound (especially the midrange area)
    • + Good detail retrieval
    • + Low to none hissing
    • + Lots of OTG Cables (inclusive Apple lighting)
    • + Plug and Play capability for Android and IOS

    • – No battery means additional battery drain for the source
  10. Kervsky
    Set Phasers on Wow
    Written by Kervsky
    Published Aug 26, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Small, dedicated controls, good detail retrieval, good separation, near neutral but energetic signature, plug and play connectivity.
    Cons - Some android apps when given exclusive control of the Beam can only output one volume level (volume control can be source dependent)
    [​IMG]

    Introduction: Audirect is a Chinese company that has engaged in the development of Hi-Fi products for quite some time, and they have been busy recently making their third generation product after the Whistle, a USB portable Hi-Fi DAC called the Beam. The Beam is aimed as an audiophile solution for the disappearing audio jack on mobile phones and can also double duty as your computer audio upgrade. The Beam I have is the Grey (Graphite) one and they also come in Gold.

    I would like to thank Audirect for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. You can buy the Audirect Beam at the Audirect's online store, the Penon website or locally if your retailer has them in stock.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Specifications/Unboxing: "Using the critically acclaimed ESS patented 32-bit HyperStream® DAC architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator, the ES9118 delivers up to 125dB SNR and –114dB THD+N, a performance level that will satisfy the most demanding audio enthusiasts."

    Output Power: -114dB TND+N, 2Vrms into 600Ω
    -108dB THD+N, 49mW into 32Ω
    up to 1.1Vrms
    Frequency response: 20-30000Hz (-0.15dB)
    Distortion: 0.0004%
    Signal to Noise ratio: +125dB SNR, +120dB DNR
    PCM sampling frequency: PCM 16-32bit, 32-384KHz
    DSD specification: DoP64, DoP128, Native DSD64/128/256
    D/A conversion chip: ES9118 SABRE HiFi SoC
    Amplifier chip: ES9118
    Internal resistance: <1Ω
    Input port: USB-C
    Output port: 3.5mm
    Length x Width x Height: 52x14x6mm
    Net weight: 12g

    You can also download their Windows driver from the product page HERE if you need it, personally on Windows 10, there was no need for me to download the driver but your mileage may vary. The Beam is totally dependent on what the device it's connected to can play, with regards to file compatibility, but if your phone/computer/DAP is capable of playing DSD files and the app you use can course it through, you can get full DSD reproduction on the Beam (you'll see this when the DSD LED lights up instead of the PCM like the image below).

    Unboxing isn't very complicated, you get the nice little cardboard box with the Audirect Beam displayed in front through a clear plastic cover with information printed around it as seen above. Opening it reveals the dongle and a separate box where the 3 cables are placed along with the manual. No fuss, just like the Beam.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Cable: The Beam comes with 3 cables for general (modern) use, a USB C to USB C for most modern phones and DAPs to the dongle, a USB C to Lightning adapter for those modern iPhones, iPod Touch and iPads, and a USB C to USB A for computer use. Construction of the cables is nicely done with braided wires protected by strain sheaths and sturdy gold plated connectors at each end. They're flexible enough to be pliable in use but strong enough not to stretch or break easily. An adapter for USB C to Micro USB could have made the package more universal, but considering the target market of the BEAM, both people who are looking for a portable upgrade for their computer/phone audio and those with modern phones lacking the 3.5mm audio jack, this is more than adequate in terms of cables and actually a bit more than some DAC/amps I've seen recently.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Build/Design: The Beam case is made of a lightweight metallic material that is smooth in texture with a bit of an angular edge that is not sharp or piercing. The color on mine is called grey but I would consider it more of a Graphite color as it has a tendency to look a bit lighter or darker depending on the light angle, just like pencil lead. Still, it's rather eye catching but simple in design. There are two LED ports indicating the bit-rate of the song being played, DSD is when the file format plays in DOP mode, and PCM is for everything else. The LED's are colored white and are small enough not to be considered a factor in power drain as they are just bright enough to be easily seen. There is a dial like switch on the left side for controlling the volume and you can press that lever inward to play/pause the music. There are 4 screws on the back as part of the construction and likely makes it easier to repair in case of trouble (but I don't suggest you fix it in case something goes wrong), and at the opposite ends are the USB-C port (top) and the 3.5mm (bottom) output plug.

    Overall the construction feels solid but light and the fact that it's pretty small at around the width of an AA battery while being a little bit taller and (almost exactly) 3 SD cards stacked on top each other thick, it's easily portable. The control switch is a nice feature that's intuitive and doesn't take up a lot of space, keeping the whole dongle streamlined and rather clutter free.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sound Analysis: Initially when I tried the Beam on multiple sources (phones, DAPs and my laptop) I felt that it was something like Mids > Bass > Treble in terms of attention provided in the frequency areas. But in addition to that, it had the technical ability to provide good detail and present a nice level of stage while sound pretty engaging. I always treat my review items to long usage times before finishing the review, just to see if anything breaks and such, so after over 250 hours of use, I'm ready to write down my findings.

    Bass: The Beam is able to present a better than average extended sub-bass with a neutral level of quantity, which ties in with a faster than average decay. This contributes to a more energetic presentation of the bass and a rather tight level of control. Bass impact and body is along the neutral side where bass hits aren't boosted (but are neither bass anemic) and sound closer to the original recording with neutral bass gear. Overall the bass is responsive and sounds smooth, lively and not exaggerated.

    [​IMG]

    Mids: As usual, good mids are my happy pill and the Beam is able to provide a rather great level of mid frequency detail and separation. There is a little bit of forwardness to the lower mids with male vocals sounding a little above neutral with thickness that prevents them from sounding thin or hollow and gives them good presence. The upper mids are presented in a bit more forward manner and again, a little above neutral thickness, which gives a good level of intimacy to female vocals. Overall, the tone of the mids is near neutral but has enough warmth and dynamic energy to convey emotions across the middle frequency effectively and with life.

    Treble: There is a little boost in the treble region which gives the Beam a more stronger treble presence. The Beam presents an average extension in the treble region, but combined with the boost and available reach, they contribute to the sense of air the Beam can provide as well as a little brighter perception of notes. The level of clarity and crispness is affected by the boost, which gives those ear gear with 'almost' crispy highs, a push to be crisp but this can also cause brighter gear to sound a little more brighter. Sibilance and harshness is not normally induced on the Beam on listenable levels, however, very high volumes (around 95+db) with sibilance prone music and brighter ear gear can reveal some light to noticeable sibilance. Treble is accurate and responsive overall with a good amount of air, excitement and smoothness.

    Soundstage: The presented stage of the beam is of a good horizontal width and almost as good in vertical depth that sounds natural in it's spread. It can provide a good open feeling that is scaled up (or down) depending on your ear gear. Imaging is a bit above average in accuracy while the ability to space layers is pretty good.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion: Audirect's Beam is a great portable DAC, it's small yet packs a big punch in terms of sonic and technical ability. It presents a near neutral sound signature to get as close to how the music was intended to be and yet does not sound clinical or boring. It provides a detailed and engaging mid range, a natural sounding bass with a crisp and energetic treble which can synergize with bass heavy gear as well as those with a relatively recessed mid frequency and relaxed treble regions for a fun and engaging listening session. Cable accessories are of very good quality and perfect for modern use, but if you happen to use sources with micro USB ports, you'll need to get an extra cable for that.

    [​IMG]

    Sound comparisons were made using a Sony WM1a (Primarily), a Hiby R6, Zishan Z1 volume matched to 90.X db of max volume for safe hearing below 8 hours of use and calibrated using a 1kh tone on a dedicated DB Meter, all sources patched through a switcher. More information will be available on the About Me page (once I find the time to write it up.)